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Carol’s reaction is but one of the hurdles that Jake and Leah face when they try to live as roommates in Jake’s apartment.
Another is an unexpected visit from Leah’s mother, who suspects her daughter’s marriage to Jake is a sham.
This coming Sunday, Hallmark Hall of Fame presents a telefilm version of Jewish playwright P’Nenah Goldstein‘s romantic drama stage play, “Loving Leah.” (Sunday, Jan. on CBS) I had a chance to see the telefilm in advance of the TV showing and I did a telephone interview with interfaith actor Adam Kaufman, 34, who plays the male lead character, Jewish doctor Jake Lever.
Though Loving Leah is better than most romantic comedies or dramas in the movie theaters, it’s not Pulitzer Prize material.
Best of all, there is actress Lauren Ambrose, 30, in the title role.
Ambrose, best known for her role as Claire Fisher, the daughter on the television show Six Feet Under, is a truly gifted actress who gives a nuanced and luminous performance as Leah.
Kaufman also told me that she is doing fine and she is very funny in real life.
Back to the plot: Jake is shocked when, shortly after his brother’s funeral, he is asked to honor the ancient Jewish Levirate marriage law.
To the telefilm’s credit, Carol is not depicted as insensitive or unreasonable.As a single man, he’s expected to marry the childless Leah to carry on Benjamin’s name…or else deny his brother’s existence in a religious ceremony that will release them from this generally un-enforced Jewish law.Despite his serious relationship with Carol (Christy Pusz), a beautiful doctor who works at Jake’s hospital, Jake finds it unthinkable to deny his brother’s existence.She initially encourages Jake to keep in contact with his dead brother’s wife and her mother.
She is, of course, shocked when Jake marries Leah and makes it clear to him that their relationship is essentially over until he divorces her.Co-star Adam Kaufman told me that Ambrose did a great deal of research among the Hasidic Orthodox Jewish community of Brooklyn in advance of the film’s production. She got great reviews in her Broadway debut in a 2006 revival of “Awake and Sing,” Jewish playwright Clifford Odets‘ (1906-1963) famous play about a Jewish family during the Great Depression.